Why would anyone meditate in a cave? The answer to this question is the monks find the getaway from common people. Meditating in the caves gives them a comfortable temperature to do rigorous “Tapasya or meditation”. Living in the caves is not suitable for aspirants who are inclined or dependent on living a modern life. In ancient times the Jain’s were popularly known as the monks. They were dedicated to God following strict meditation rules. King Kharvela a king of Odisha who was inspired by the Jain Sangha/community build caves in the Khandagiri and Udaygiri hills in the 2nd B.C.
The King later dedicated the Udayagiri caves and Khandagiri for meditation of the Jain community. The name “Khandagiri” comes from the name “Khanda” means “Broken” and “Giri” means hills. Jainism is one of the oldest religions found in the world. Udayagiri and Khandagiri is one of the siddhakhetra of Digambara Jain people. Since the time of Parsvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankara the history of Jainism was evolved in Odisha. The Udayagiri caves and Khandagiri are elaborately carved and the sculpture work was done beautifully.
Orissa Tourism will take you to these historical caves and give the complete information which will help you plan your trip accordingly.
The Udayagiri cave means the “Sunrise” and Khandgiri means the broken hill are the most famous caves situated 8 Km away from Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Bhubaneswar. The Khandagiri cave has almost 15 caves and Udaygiri Cave have18 caves respectively. These marvelous caves will make you wander in its beauty also you get to learn about the ancient time sculptural work. There are almost 33 caves inside the Udaygiri and Khandagiri caves build for the Jain shelter. You would also see the refection of Jain austerity in the rock-cut steps. These caves protect the monks from several harsh kinds of weather providing them safety and a place to stay. Both the caves face each other giving you to explore both at one time. The simplicity in the structure, as well as the carvings, is quite evidently visible that attracts several tourists from around the world.
The verandas vary in length depending on the size of the back rooms. They are covered with paintings, motifs, and engravings of court scenes, royal processions, and hunting expeditions. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has numbered the caves by counting them. Among all the complicated carved caves, Ganesh Ghumpa, Snake Cave, Bagh Ghumpa, and Navamuni Ghumpa are the most popular. These caves are filled with exquisite artwork and magnificence. The most popular is the inscriptions are found on the walls written in Brahmi language which dates back to 2nd century B.C. The forest and the lush greenery of the region make the monks feel homely that is connected with nature. The extraordinarily detailed work and narrate the King’s love story with his second wife. You’ll get to witness how the King comes to the forest to do hunting and rescues his future wife who has escaped from her kidnappers. The carving also tells you the story of the change in the mentality of King Kharvela who decided to quit hunting with his wife’s advice. This is one of the vital principles of Jainism. You will also find the interactions between Alexander the Great with the King Kharavela in some of the most astounding sculptures.
Both the caves have Rani gumpha (Queen Cave), Hathi gumpha (Elephant Cave), Ganesha gumpha (Ganesha Cave).
The Rani gumpha is the most majestic gumpha which is the largest gumpha among all other gumphas. It is a two-storied monastery that is supported by many columns and terraces. The caves contain beautiful sculptures of dancing women, royal entourage, and musical instruments. Ganesha Gumpha is one of the rare cases that have multiple dwellings and terraces. This is one of the popular caves as a sculpture of Ganesha that is inscribed on the rear wall of the cave. It shows how the Jain Tirthankara worshipped the sculptures of elephants. The Ganesha Gumpha is carved with beautiful artwork telling the story of the king’s hunting and war expeditions.
Another cave that has the most popular is the Hathi gumpha, that is the Elephant’s cave. In the Udayagiri cave, we can find the best Hathi Gumpha. It is the main inscription that provides us with insight into the reign of King Kharavela of the 1st century BC Kalinga. This cave speaks about the glory of King Kharavela. You will find the Namokar Mantra inscribed on the walls which are known as the sacred chant read by the Jains. The inscription consists of seventeen lines cut written in the Brahmi script. This largest cave represents his expeditions and exploits off the battlefield inscribed in Magadhi characters. This inscription can be seen on the overhanging brow of the cave that consists of seventeen lines covering an area of fifteen feet and one inch in length and five feet and six inches in height.
Now, Orissa Tourism will give you the path of how to reach these magnificent caves:
How to Reach:
Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves are about 8km away from Bhubaneshwar. You can reach Bhubaneswar by Bus, Train, and Flight. From there, you can take a cab, Auto or Bus to reach the Udayagiri and Khandagiri.
The Udayagiri and Khadagiri Timing is from Monday to Sunday from morning 8 am to evening at 5 pm. You are most likely to spot a lot of monkeys so Orissa Tourism suggests you to be careful with food, wallet and your cameras. The Ticket price is reasonable for tourists from India they charge about Rs 15/- or $0.20, for international travelers it is Rs 200/- that is $2.68. If you are traveling through a cab then you can also check the address through Google Map. The Udayagiri and Khandagiri Pin code is 560037.
Orissa Tourism wishes you to find these caves worth exploring and learn and know more about the history. However, please keep in mind these entry and exit time remains unaltered as the guard will close the main entrance at the time designated. Orissa Tourism requests you to not litter or throw plastic that could cause the wild animal’s health hazards. For any serious inconvenience, you also report your issue at the local Khadagiri Police Station.